Ever since I can remember, I loved cola. I liked the taste and I loved whatever it did to me. Young me, of course, had no idea that the mighty caffeine was raising my blood pressure and preventing my brain from realising it was getting tired. Plus, there was the cheap and easy sugar high.
As I grew older I became something of a cola elitist (there was a time I could guess if the cola came from a keg, a plastic bottle or a glass one by tasting it). I tried many many different ones. My favourite to this day is Jolt Cola, probably due to the caffeine amount in it, which causes a stronger buzz and a stronger taste as well.
Why do I tell you this? Well, I want to introduce you to a selection of German beverages. My comments on their flavours are of course based on my personal taste. Regarding that taste, when it comes to the classic Cola War, I prefer Coca Cola. Diet cola, let alone decaf, has no place in my fridge. I will, however, try any soda, caffeinated or not, just leave me alone with decaffeinated cola.
Afri Cola is probably Germany's first own cola; according to their website, they registered the brand name in 1931. Like all other cola brands, it lives in the shadows of the big two but remains a popular brand, especially amongst students. The current mixture features 250 milligrams of caffeine per millilitre which is â€“- if Wikipedia is to be trusted â€“- the legal limit in Germany. A quick look at the amount of caffeine in Jolt Cola (200mg/100ml) and Red Bull (240mg/100ml) shows: wiki could be right. This also means, I think, that German Jolt has less caffeine than the American one. This makes me a little bit angry. (Widge's notation: Per Energy Fiend, it appears that's correct.)
Interestingly enough, Afri-Cola never gave me the same buzz that Jolt Cola provides. It might have to do with the taste though. While the flavour of Jolt and Afri are fairly close, Afri has this odd, strong aftertaste that stops you from ordering another one. My reaction to Afri is like the reaction to strong cheese: you might say, it's not "More!" but "That was nice. Let's wait a month to have another."
A fairly new brand with an alternative flair to it is Fritz-Kola.
Evidently the cola with the worst logo on the planet. The beverage with 250mg of caffeine per 100 millilitres is supposed to be the "cola for adults". This doesn't mean that there is alcohol in it, but it is supposed to be not as sweet and have more caffeine as your average cola. Sadly, the amount of caffeine is in my opinion the only thing this cola has going for it. To my taste buds, even if I stay away from soda for a while, the Fritz-Kola just tastes bleak. The beverage is not as sweet, yes, too bad there is no other taste in those bottles to take the lead.
Spezi is probably the oldest beverage to feature a mix between two standard soda flavours that is rare in the US, but very popular in Germany: cola and orange flavoured lemonade. The original Spezi adds a lot of natural ingredients to the mixture that give it a very fresh flavour, most other cola-mixes of that sort do not. There is not much of a caffeine buzz; the taste alone makes it special. Sadly, the brand is almost forgotten, although still in existence. The dominance of the big two and their respective cola-mixes don't allow for a third big brand.
Due to a strong "Bio"-trend in the food market of Germany, there are some fairly new products available to the customer. The biggest new name in beverages was probably Bionade. They offer completely natural sodas with only little sugar and interesting flavours, yet no cola, no caffeine.
Other companies offer "bio-colas" that switched most artificial ingredients with natural ones. Some of them actually have no caffeine, others use the cola nut as a natural source of caffeine.
No article about German beverages would be complete without at least a few words about beer. Since I don't drink alcohol though, my knowledge about beer is somewhat limited. Yet, just as the US has various brands of root beer, Germany's breweries produce an alcohol free, sweet malt beer. The taste of the different brands vary from extremely sweet to almost bitter, some feature a malt taste that is extremely strong, in other cases it's more subtle. Although the dark, sparkling beverage will fill your stomach like a good meal, it has less calories than fruit juice or milk.
Legally, malt beer is not even a beer, because every product that is being sold as a beer in Germany is only allowed to be made out of hop, malt and water. Malt beer includes additional sugar though.
In short: If you are an caffeine addict, I would suggest Afri Cola, Spezi, Bionade and malt beer are good at quenching one's thirst and have a unique taste.
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